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The European Union has been using the Article 7 procedure as a way to bend Hungary to the bloc’s mainstream position on key issues, János Bóka, the European affairs minister, said in Luxembourg. But hopefully, now that the EU elections are over, debates on the rule of law will be more objective and constructive, Bóka told journalists before a meeting of EU affairs ministers at which the Article 7 procedure against Hungary is on the agenda. He said it was expected that “voices that linked the Article 7 procedure to a certain negotiation position will fall silent”, adding that whereas the procedure itself as a political process was unlikely to change — and would be used to put Hungary under pressure regarding certain political issues — “strong rhetoric and the conflict-seeking” would ease. Bóka said Hungary’s EU presidency starting next week would lead strategic discussions on policy areas that were key for the next institutional cycle. The democracy protection package is on the agenda at today’s Luxembourg council meeting, he noted, adding that ministers will hold a policy debate on the proposal for establishing harmonised requirements on transparency of interest representation carried out on behalf of third countries. “Hungary agrees … that malign interference in the electoral process of the European Union is undesirable. The Hungarian presidency will take this dossier further,” he said.